Visiting Japan! - My Family Travels
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My name is Daniel Johnson, and I live in Hartselle, Alabama. I am 17 years old and a senior at Hartselle High School. This past summer, I was very fortunate to win a trip to visit  Japan, and experience their culture first-hand. I was chosen for this trip of a lifetime by Daikin Industries, who has a plant in Decatur, Alabama. The company was founded in Japan, and that is where their headquarters is located. They sponser this trip for students in the surrounding area to go and live with a family in Japan for ten days, in hopes that we learn more about the world we live in, and experience the Japanese way of life.

     I was chosen to stay with a family who actually lived in Decatur from 1992 until 1998. The father worked for Daikin America, but was transferred back to Osaka, Japan. They were the most caring, and unselfish people I have ever met, and I still talk to them today via E-mail; I actually miss them very much. They did also speak fluent English, since they used to live in Alabama, and I was very blessed to not have the inconveinence of a language barrier. My Japanese family and I connected right off the bat. The father’s name was Yasuhiko Sawada, but he allowed me to simply call him Mr. Steve. His wife’s name was Shoko, and they had two sons, Leona, who was 14, and Taira, who was 12.

     My family took me many amazing places! We visited ancient castles that belonged to the famous emperors, and ancient temples of buddhism and shintoism. Aside from traditional places, we visited the modern parts of Japan as well. From malls and markets to breathtaking views from the rooftops of skyscrapers in downtown Osaka, we visited many beautiful and majestic places, and it truly gave me a greater love for how beautiful our Earth really is.

     The people of Japan are one of a kind as well.  It was almost hard to get used to how nice they were, because they have so much more respect for one another and complete strangers, than we have for one another in America. They are also very energy conservative and that is something I was very impressed with and brought back with me. Something as simple as turning off a light in an unused room or turning off the water while you brush your teeth can make the biggest difference in the energy we use, while still seeming so insignificant. Also, Japan is litter-free! Even in big cities, people dispose of their wastes properly and they truly have a greater understanding of how important keeping our Earth clean really is. I definately learned to have greater respect for the world we live in, and it doesnt take much to keep it clean, we just have to get up and do our part.

    Last but definately not least is the food. Where to start?! At first, I was skeptical of eating, because I never even really liked the “Asian” food you could get here in America. However, when I arrived I made the decesion to try every plate that was laid in front of me. I am so, so glad that I did, too! All the meals I endeavored upon were the most delecious foods that have ever journeyed inside my mouth. I even bought a Japanese cook book to bring back with me!

     Japan is a beautiful country and anyone that ever gets the opportunity to visit, definately should! I am planning to go back when I graduate high school!

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